Ian’s reveal that he would get his wish to go to an Arsenal Football Club match did not start out in the traditional way, with balloons and cheers and banners. Instead, he found out when his mother received a speeding ticket.
“We were driving to the grocery store and my mom was pulled over by a police officer but they didn’t give her a ticket,” said Ian. “Instead they asked for me.”
Ian stepped out of the car when asked but instead of a speeding ticket, Ian received a GoPro and a mysterious envelope.
“It was the coolest surprise ever!” said 17 year old Ian. “I was so scared at first and then I had no idea what was going on because my mom played it off so well.”
The envelope included a series of puzzles that had Ian and his family driving to different destinations all around the city before ending at an indoor sports facility he recognized.
“When I went inside, there were kids playing all kinds of different games, and I was confused because I didn’t have another clue.” Ian said. “Then all of a sudden the lights went out and a flash mob of my friends, family and wish granters appeared holding posters and signs!”
Everyone was so excited to finally announce Ian’s wish was going to be granted. Ian would finally get to see his favorite soccer team, the Arsenal Football Club, play in London.
Ian, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014, grew up playing soccer. Arsenal Football Club was the first team he ever saw on television, and he became hooked.
“I would wake up at 6 a.m. every weekend to watch their matches live,” Ian said. “I fell in love with British culture and it has been my wish to see the team play in London, on their home turf, my entire life.”
Ian’s wish to see the match live did not just include the game. When game day arrived, his family was escorted to the players’ entrance for a behind-the-scenes tour of Emirates Stadium, where they were able to see the team arrive.
“One of the retired players gave me a jersey with my name on it that was signed by the entire team!” Ian said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”
They received their own box seats to watch the match, complete with a three-course, gourmet buffet, but Ian says one of the biggest memories he has taken away from the wish was the opportunity to spend so much time with family.
“My sister is in college so it was really cool that she was able to come with us,” Ian said. “Normally, we would never be able to go on a vacation like this and it really brought us together.”
Ian’s trip did not only include a day with the team. In fact, the family had time to sightsee on the infamous big red double decker bus , visiting Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, the London Eye and Shakespeare’s Globe.
But of course, Ian’s favorite part of his wish was the Arsenal F.C. match.
To this day, Ian says he is still in awe from the experience.
“The atmosphere was incredible,” Ian said. “It was fantastic to be able to see a live match instead of just watching it from home on the television and that is a memory that no one can ever take away.”